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Donepezil: uses, characteristics and effects of this drug

Donepezil: uses, characteristics and effects of this drug

June 21, 2024

Due to the large number of symptoms and the gradual nature of these, neurodegenerative diseases are virtually impossible to stop or cure. However, at present, there are drugs that enable the improvement of functions, giving the patient greater autonomy and, consequently, a higher quality of life.

This is the case of donepezil, a drug prescribed in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease that, despite not achieving the remission of symptoms, favors the improvement of psychological functions such as memory, communication skills and even mobility.

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What is donepezil?

Donepezil, known commercially under the name of Aricept, is a drug belonging to the so-called cholinesterase inhibitors and administered for the palliative treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

The main effects that this drug exerts on the patient with Alzheimer's are related to the improvement of mental functions . Its effects on cognition and patient behavior are remarkable, improving functions such as memory, attention, interaction with other people, speech and the ability to reason.

However, despite these improvements donepezil does not slow the progression of the disease nor can it be considered a cure for Alzheimer's, but it is used as a palliative medication that improves the level of dependence and the quality of life of patients.

The research that resulted in the development of donepezil began in 1983, but it was not until 1996 when it received approval from the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). After fourteen years, the donepezilo began to be commercialized by the pharmaceutical Pfizer and in 2011 became the best-selling treatment for Alzheimer's disease in the world , being sold also in generic format.

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In what cases is it used?

As discussed above, donepezil is administered in most cases for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. This condition causes progressive neuronal destruction or degeneration It affects both memory processes and the ability to reason, learn, speak or perform a large number of daily activities.

In addition, this drug can also be administered for the treatment of certain types of dementias in which the capacities that enable recall, reasoning, communication, as well as emotional stability and personality are affected.

However, as specified above, there is still no evidence that donepezil alters the course or progression of Alzheimer's disease. The administration of this drug in mild to moderate dementias is recommended, but in any case the person must undergo continuous monitoring and follow-up, as well as a psychological therapy that accompanies the effects of the medication.

What is your mecanism of action?

The active substance of donepezil unites and paralyzes the action of cholinesterases irreversibly , thus inhibiting the hydrolysis of acetylcholine. As a result, donepezil increases acetylcholine concentrations in cholinergic synapses. What favors the proper functioning of neuronal transmissions.

Alzheimer's disease involves a substantial loss of certain elements of the cholinergic system so it is hypothesized that the symptoms of this are related to a deficit of acetylcholine, especially in the cerebral cortex and other areas of the brain such as hippocampal formation. This loss of cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system generates a cognitive deterioration that causes the symptoms related to attention, memory and learning.

How is it administered?

Donepezil is administered in two different formats: tablets and oral tablets soluble in the mouth, both to be consumed orally. The recommended dose is usually one tablet or tablet a day, preferably consumed always at the same time and at night just before bedtime. However, these are some general recommendations, so the patient must always adhere to the indications provided by the medical professional , which will adjust the treatment to each specific case. Therefore, in no case should the patient alter the indicated doses on their own and can only stop taking it under the supervision of the pertinent doctor.

It is possible that donepezil takes a few weeks to take effect. However, the patient should continue with their consumption.Otherwise it is possible that a whole series of adverse effects that harm the state of health of the person appear.

What are the side effects?

As with all drugs and medications, donepezil can generate a series of adverse effects which, depending on the degree of intensity in which they occur, can be really annoying for the patient.

These reactions typical of treatment can be divided into those side effects that are not serious, so they do not always require medical attention, and those other more serious effects, in which it is necessary to consult the doctor as soon as possible; to adjust the medication.

1. Non-serious side effects

  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Gastric alterations as diarrhea.
  • Loss of appetite and the consequent loss of weight.
  • Increase the need to urinate.
  • Muscle cramps .
  • Joint pain.
  • Sensation of fatigue and fatigue.
  • Sleeping problems.
  • Headaches .
  • Dizziness
  • Sensation of nervousness.
  • Depressive symptoms .
  • Confusion.
  • Alterations in the mood.
  • Skin disorders such as redness or itching.

2. Serious side effects

These are the side effects that have to be detected and taken care of more quickly.

  • Hallucinations
  • Fainting.
  • Decreased heart rate .
  • Chest pain.
  • Respiratory problems .
  • Stools darker than usual.
  • Blood in the stool.
  • Vomiting with traces of blood or with granules similar to coffee.
  • Pain when urinating .
  • Low back pain
  • Fever.
  • Convulsions
  • Discoloration or cardinals without apparent justification.

What precautions should be taken with their consumption?

The patient should inform his doctor of any special health condition you are in, including pregnancy , both before and during the treatment. In addition, donepezil should be administered cautiously in patients with heart disease, cardiac conduction disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, asthma, severe cardiac arrhythmias and sick sinus syndrome.

In the same way, the doctor must have proof of any other treatment to which the patient is subject. This includes prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins, nutritional supplements and natural herbal supplements.

Pharmacology - CHOLINERGIC DRUGS (MADE EASY) (June 2024).

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